Have you ever noticed that people often respond differently to the same circumstance?
What’s up with that?
I remember the first time I really noticed that and learned what it meant.
It was huge for me. A total game changer.
The truth is that circumstances are neutral. They have no automatic power over us to cause us to feel anything.
I don’t remember consciously thinking otherwise – but on a subconscious level I thought that certain responses were a given to certain circumstances.
- A rainy day meant that I automatically felt down.
- Teenager making a sassy comment meant that I automatically felt angry.
- Husband forgetting to take out the trash (again) automatically meant that I felt annoyed.
I bet you can relate.
The truth is humans tend to sub-consciously think our circumstances cause us to feel different things.
Circumstances are things like other people’s words and actions, our living environment, our bank balance, the weather.
Things outside of us.
We tend to say things like –
- “Work is stressing me out.”
- “Their arguing is getting on my last nerve.”
- “What a depressing day” implying that the weather is what is making us depressed.
But the reality is that –
- Our thoughts about our workload are what are causing us to feel stress.
- Our thoughts about the arguing are what are causing the irritation.
- Our thoughts about the overcast sky and rainy day are what make us sad.
Think about it –
Not everyone thinks that an overcast sky and rain are gloomy – a lot of people think that’s cozy. Still others are grateful for the rain to alleviate a drought.
Not everyone thinks a lot of work is stressful. Many think that having a lot of work makes the day go by fast.
Many people can have the same interaction or the same experience and have different takeaways from it.
A layoff can lead to worry for one person, but another person can view it as a great gift – to be freed from a job they don’t enjoy and get some severance too.
Our thoughts about the situation are always what lead to our feelings.
And this is terrific news because we have control over our thoughts, and therefore over how we’re going to feel.
There will still be many situations that we will want to feel sad or mad. We don’t want to feel happy that a loved one died, for example.
But it is so empowering to understand that for many situations the negative emotion is optional.
And when we’re freed from the negative emotion we typically respond and act in more effective ways creating much more desirable results.
Take back your power to respond the way you want to and truly start to thrive.